Sidbury school expansion approved despite flooding and traffic fears
PUBLISHED: 12:30 25 October 2017
Early years pupils are set to gain a new classroom at Sidbury Primary School - despite residents' fears it is 'taking over the village'.
Villagers objected with claims the development would worsen flooding and the ‘gridlock’ on key roads at peak times, but the plans were backed by the Environment Agency (EA) and the County Highway Authority. The Government is also pushing for ‘good’ schools to be expanded.
The application, for a building with toilets, a group room and a cloakroom, includes an external play area with raised decking, a new ramp and a new hall store.
It cited an EA assessment that judged Sidbury Primary School to be ‘one of the most at risk of flooding in Devon’, but said it was not viable to relocate.
Residents Mr and Mrs Sowden objected, saying: “The proposed building would be on a flood plain that has flooded in the past.
“It causes gridlock on what is a main road through the village. We understand some children travel from Ottery St Mary and Honiton – why? Are there not enough schools there for their pupils? Our village school has lost its identity along the way.”
Rob Drew said parents and school buses regularly block the roads and the small car park, preventing passing trade from parking. He added: “The school needs to consider the locals a bit more, not take over the village.”
Gillian Bengough added: “The school is quite big enough for a village of this size and I dread to think what the parking will be like if it gets bigger – residents on the main street say a child will be killed before anyone takes any notice.”
An East Devon District Council officer acknowledged that the site is at high risk of flooding and the development would add to the congestion and parking problems – but said the Government backs the expansion of good schools.
Approving the scheme, the officer added: “The school is rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted and its expansion is supported by the Local Education Authority.
“In view of the lack of objection from the EA, the highway authority and Sport England, there are no overriding reasons why planning permission should be refused.”
According to the application, the school, rated ‘good’ by Ofsted inspectors, has gone from strength to strength and grown from fewer than 80 pupils five years ago to 150 today.